As public relations counselors, we’re used to preparing our clients for how to deal with bad news. But, this past September 2018, our client experienced the opposite issue – how to avoid being overwhelmed by good news!
United Food Bank of Mesa, Arizona, learned that it would receive an abundance of USDA bonus food, along with trade mitigation foods resulting from U.S. trade renegotiations. In all, the food bank would receive about 3 million additional pounds of food, most of it requiring refrigeration.
For a food bank, 3 million pounds of free, nutritious food is some of the best news imaginable, but it also posed a logistical nightmare! It would be far more perishable food than the organization could store, so these foods coming by the truckload would need to be distributed to partner agencies almost as quickly as they arrived. United Food Bank suddenly needed to raise $350,000 to pay for the additional transportation costs they would incur for added driver shifts and refrigerated trucks.
Our agency, teamworks, jumped at the opportunity to craft a story pitch tying a local need to a national and international storyline. U.S. trade disputes were making national headlines across the country. But Arizona media outlets were struggling to find ways to report on the story with a local perspective. We had the opportunity to share the good news that trade mitigation would mean additional food supplies for people in need of food assistance, while also imploring the community to “help deliver meals” by donating to support the added transportation costs.
As a result:
- The Arizona Republic ran an article headlined “Trade War Could Benefit Food Banks” prominently featuring United Food Bank, including how to volunteer and donate.
- The article re-ran in the national USA Today, the Arizona Business Gazette and in other Gannett papers across the country.
- This story was seen by a reporter with China Daily News, resulting in a news story that was placed on their website and their Facebook page, which has 56 million followers.
- A KJZZ (NPR) story ran locally and then was re-edited for national broadcast on NPR’s Marketplace.
These media efforts kicked off United Food Bank’s “Help Deliver Meals” fundraising efforts and garnered initial donations of more than $52,000 toward their goal. This success beautifully illustrates the benefits of successfully linking local needs and issues with trending national news stories.
By: Barb Harris and Sharon Kreher of teamworks
With more than 25 years of experience in communications, teamworks has deep roots in providing nonprofit organizations and consumer retail clients with sound counsel, creative content, branding expertise and exemplary media relations results. Business partners Barb Harris and Sharon Kreher both come from big agency backgrounds and took this experience to manage several national communication programs after starting their firm in 1997. When they’re not helping their clients tell their stories, they’re busy cooking, reading and traveling.